Lappies Labuschagne and Wimpie van der Walt have both been included in hosts Japan’s 31-man squad for the upcoming World Cup.
Labuschagne, who captained Japan on his international debut this year, is among the three South African-born players in coach Jamie Joseph’s squad.
Van der Walt has earned 12 caps since his debut against Australia in 2017, while utility back Kotaro Matsushima, who was born in Pretoria and attended the Sharks academy, will make his second World Cup appearance.
Joseph has gone for an 18-13 split between forwards and backs, with 28 players retained from the squad that won the Pacific Nations Championship. Only one uncapped player in hooker Takuya Kitade has been included, while lock Isileli Nakajima and prop Jiwon Koo return from injury.
The team will once again be led by No 8 Michael Leitch.
Japan are in Pool A along with Ireland, Scotland, Samoa and Russia. They will kick the tournament off against Russia in Tokyo on 20 September before facing Ireland, Samoa and Scotland.
Japan World Cup squad
Forwards: Keita Inagaki, Yusuke Kizu, Jiwon Koo, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Takuya Kitade, Atsushi Sakate, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson, Wimpie van der Walt, Uwe Helu, James Moore, Hendrik Tui, Yohitaka Tokunaga, Michael Leitch (c), Lappies Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno, Amanaki Mafi.
Backs: Kaito Shingeno, Fukiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka, Ataata Moeakiola, Lomano Lemeki, William Tupou, Timothy Lafaele, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryohei Yamanaka.
Photo: Toru Hanai/Getty Images